As we have a short life.. we have limited resources
August 24, 2011 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Getting over the fear of committing time and money into a relationship if we aren't promised it will stand the test of time?

Background info :
> I grew up in a loving enviroment. My parents ran away together and got married at 16 and have been together +30 years, happily married. I think because of this my idea of a relationship was warped. All the important couples in my life (aunts and uncles, godparents) have a similar story. They all left Mexico for the US, the women all depend on their spouse, both work and provide for the family, women do housework.. pretty traditional.
> So in 2006 I started dating B, and we were in love. He made MAJOR sacrifices to win me over and being Salvadorian having met his extended family they seemed pretty similiar to mine so I thought he had the same concept of a relationship. We'd sacrifice but dedicate ourselves entirely to our relationship.
> 2011, B cheated on me by (soberly and fully aware of what he wa doing) making out with two girls that we had gone to college with when he went to our alma mater to visit our friends without me.
> I, [who had been paying ALL the bills, picking up ALL the tabs EVERYTIME we went out, CLOTHES for him, letting him live for FREE at home with me (no bills, sometimes groceries) rent free] kicked him the hell out.
> But I lost thousands of dollars, which in one way or another, "invested" in B and our relationship (I spent the money thinking later after we'd get married he'd support me)
> I lost 2.5 years of my life
> I'm really tramatized and hesitant in investing so much in anyone.

So now my questions:
Being in a new relationship with new guy, D, I only see him 1-2 times a week, because it's a 30-40 min drive to his place, 30-40 drive back which is A LOT for me, since I have a PACKED M-F schedule.

After a confrontation with B, D refuses to come to my house.. he needs time to get over it (B threatened D, but it was all just for show tho D wont get over it). Okay. I'll give him that time to get over it but D has been hounding me to come up more frequently. He wants 4-5 times a week and to spend the night there many nights. I'm still tramatized from all the money and time I wasted with B, that even tho D is amazing and really good for me (and he actually pays when we go out!), I just can't seem to get over this trama... I am insecure about everything. I almost feel like I'd need D to ask me to marry him before I can really dedicate the time he wants because of these other fears that are constantly in the back of my mind.

Does this make sense? How can I get over this? I told D to give me time.. but he says he's given me 2-3 months worth of time and he wants to get to the next step in our relationship.. I just feel really burned and dont trust my judgment, since I thought I went about it the correct way (according the magic formula of my happy family couples)..

Bleh :( I feel miserable. I hope I explained myself well enough and will respond to any questions.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you live with B? Because if not, a confrontation with B is not a reason for D to ask you do all of the driving in your relationship. And if you do live with B, I'd say your first priority ought to be getting out of that living situation. Either way, it's unfair for D to ask to see you more, but be unwilling to take on any of the burden of making that happen.

Look, you have some pretty weird ideas about what relationships should be like. But it's okay, we all have weird ideas about relationships, based on how we grew up and what we've been through. Everyone is, on some level, a little wacky about relationships.

Rather than thinking about whether you're "wasting" time on a relationship because it might not end in marriage, what if you instead looked at that time as an end in itself? That is, do you want to see D right now enough to justify spending an hour or two in the car to see him? If you knew that you would never get married, to him or anyone else, would you still want to hang out with him and spend the night with him and make the time to see him? If not, you shouldn't be in a relationship. But if it's worth it to you to be with him right now, be with him right now, and deal with the future when it comes.
posted by decathecting at 1:06 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

How long after you broke up with B did you start dating D? I believe the common wisdom is to wait at least 6 months.

Why would B be coming around at all? B threatening you or D or anyone, is bad. Have you considered a restraining order?

It doesn't sound like money is an issue this time around. For what it's worth, I think it's totally reasonable to take a stand in a relationship that, aside from a very good reason, both sides should contribute equally - whether it's money or chores or what have you.

I'm sorry you are miserable. Relationships often suck! I hope you get a lot of good advice here, but mine would probably lean toward taking a break off dating at least until you get B out of the picture for good. Seriously.
posted by Glinn at 1:06 PM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

if he wants to take the next step, then he'll have to step half way. if he doesn't want to come visit you, or even occasionally stay in a cheaper hotel (that you split the bill on) halfway, then he's being disingenuous about where he wants this to go.

the trauma and the other stuff? honestly - it sort of sounds like you got your heart broken earlier this year and out of that you jumped into another relationship to find that security it feels like was stolen from you. i would honestly question if your reservations are based in part in knowing that you aren't ready yet.

it's ok to date some people before you find your forever partner. it's ok to invest in the time with those inbetweeners to really make a go of it. it's ok to take care of yourself and not go all in until you feel safe.
posted by nadawi at 1:07 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

D won't come to your house (needing more time) even though B no longer lives there but he wants you to trek to his place 40 min away 4-5 times a week? Red flag.

If all this just went down this year then I would say maybe things are going too fast with D and you need more time as well -mostly to adjust to and acknowledge the realization that all men do not and will not act like B.

As far as money, take turns paying for things and then you will have an equal investment in the relationship. If it doesn't work out then you have simply clothed/fed/entertained yourself. It does sound like you want everything to work out with D in the way that it didn't with B, but life holds no guarantees, you just gotta get out there and do the best you can.
posted by pink candy floss at 1:10 PM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

In a social environment where it's pretty easy to change partners, you need to be wary of thinking of your romantic partner as an "investment."

If you're spending time and money because you're investing in the future, you will be burned if you break up. And there are no guarantees; even marriage is not a guarantee that you are not "wasting your time." On the other hand, if you're spending time and money because you enjoy what you are doing together right now, then the uncertain future becomes less important.
posted by grobstein at 1:14 PM on August 24, 2011 [8 favorites]

I've actually seen uneven driving demands put a pretty severe strain on relationships (including my own at one point) and so for me that's a HUGE red flag. If he wants to see you 4-5 times a week, he'd better be coming to you 2-3 of those times.

How is it that B was even around to threaten him? That may be something that needs to be addressed on your end, since it's understandable for him to be unhappy about coming over if it's a situation where B could come around again.

Also it's totally reasonable to expect that he puts in as much as you are at this point - splitting or alternating checks, taking turns driving bc gas is pricy, keeping gifts really reasonable. I know you shouldn't be accounting for every penny, but I think everyone has a basic idea of what they've put in.

Grobstein's last paragraph basically hits on the rest of my point - you're paying for what you're enjoying now, not investing towards some possible (and possibly mythical) future payoff.
posted by brilliantine at 1:38 PM on August 24, 2011

I tell myself not to "invest" in the beginning of relationships. I pay close attention to whether or not the time I'm spending is intrinsically valuable and meaningful. Do you feel energized before, during, and after spending time with D? Do you both get more than what you put in? I start "investing" 6-24 months after I meet someone, when we're truly "partners."

Don't make yourself tired. Don't drain yourself. Be patient and gentle with yourself. Try to only do things that give you life, not things that take it away. You don't owe D anything. You don't need to give anyone anything, ever. Just be careful and kind and figure out how to do things that are always good for both of you. If you work together with him and can't solve that puzzle, then it might be time to move on.
posted by zeek321 at 1:47 PM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Think of it this way - you spent a lot of money to learn some important life lessons, so it wasn't a wasted investment.

Now you are less naive about relationships and are much less likely to get into a situation where someone is freeloading off of you, instead you are going to demand that each partner in the relationship put in an equal amount of time, money, and work (to whatever extent the partner's situation can afford) to achieve a much better relationship balance. You are going to talk to your partner about what your expectations are for the future in terms of finances and career, and ensure that the partner is supportive of whatever plan you have in mind, and you are going to be able to more realistically assess whether your partner is going to be able to fulfill the role you have imagined for him, based on your improved ability to judge the character of others. And you will know that no matter what, sometimes you can get burned in a relationship, and you can still come out alive on the other side and find happiness elsewhere.


Sorry to hear about what happened to you. A lot of us get burned at one point or another, and I am sure that eventually you will find someone who you can trust and love again.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:49 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you're doing exactly the right thing by taking things slow. You have different expectations for relationships - there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But the men you date need to know that. If things aren't going according to the conventional schedule, that's because you aren't looking for the conventional relationship. You've learned that some people take relationships less seriously than you do, and it's perfectly rational to do what it takes to ensure that you are forming an attachment with someone who is as serious as you are.

Attachments are difficult to build and painful to undo, so there's nothing wrong with looking at it as an investment. To look at it any other way is to avoid forming attachments at all.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:57 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of different things you need to sort out here -- they are all jumbled together!

1) Are you ready, emotionally, for a relationship with D? It takes a while to get over a breakup, especially a traumatic breakup of a long-term relationship. You ARE traumatized, and you may need to give yourself more time to get over it.

2) Are you happy with the way D is treating you and how your relationship is going? Do you think he is being fair to you in the short-run? Try to think about this about how things are now, instead of how things might be in the future. (In other words, don't think, "I woudl be willing to drive to him if we were engaged." Think instead about how fair things are RIGHT NOW.)

3) What are your beliefs and standards about money in a relationship? It is pretty normal for couples to wait until they are serious before undertaking serious financial responsibilities to each other. In my experience, in the early part of a relationship, each person usually takes care of their own basic financial needs. The richer person may pay for special things from time to time (dinners, vacations, etc) if the other can't afford it. But you don't get to the level of MAJOR financial support (e.g., rent, groceries) until you have a high level of commitment.
posted by yarly at 2:09 PM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

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